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Our scouting trip


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#1 adeybaby

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    Posted 05 February 2007 - 04:05 PM

    Well, we got back last night from our trip to Vallarta. I loved it! We meant to look around at different sites but never really got around to it! We really liked the Westin and fortunately had the opportunity to see two weddings there Friday night. One on the patio (in front of Club Regina) and one at the pergolas. I'll post pictures later tonight (we took a lot!). I'll do my reviews/comments in piece meal, too, as I have time throughout the day to get stuff typed up. Forum managers, I can move notes/reviews/pictures to more appropriate areas, but I wanted to have all of the scouting trip notes together in one section at least.

    Westin -
    • The hotel is about a 5 minute drive from the airport. It was actually kinda funny because we were so concerned we wouldn't be able to find it.
    • We ended up renting a car (a trusty litle Dodge Attitude) and rocked to the the station "Digital, Todo Exitos!".
    • I digress....the drive was quick and along the way passed the Marriot, Melia and the Mayan Palace hotels among others on the Marina. This was a good thing because a few friends have points at the Marriot and would still be nearby.
    • Patio: When we saw the patio during the day we were wondering if we would have room for our 120-150 guests. The fountain is really pretty, but not overbearing. A good center piece. It was mentioned that people float candles in it and I definitely think that that would make it especially nice. We visited again after they had setup for the wedding. The wedding only had about 8 tables of 8, and didn't really fill up the space. I can definitely see how you would want only have larger weddings here. The band was setup along the large pink wall (I was imagining how vibrant pictures would be with the wall as the backdrop). We never went back out at night time, though, to see the fountain in full effect.
    • Pergolas: The pergola setup was cool, but we felt that the guests would defniitely be too separated between each one. There are some "double-wide" pergolas where you could have two tables, and the square ones housed one table. It was really elegant, though, just wasn't as conducive to mingling. Also our Wedding Coordinator indicated that many times people are lounging on their beach chairs in front of the pergolas (or in the un-used pergolas themselves) and do not have to move unless they want to you. You're going to have some amount of gawkers, but I felt that at the pergolas, people were just standing there staring. Over by the patio, it seemed less likely that people would go out of their way to stand on the (setup patio) to ogle at your wedding!
    • The hotel itself is beautiful. Sorry I didn't take pictures at night, but it was so pretty lit up at night time. I love the bright pinks and yellows...definitely festive.
    • The rooms...we ened up (after a mix-up on our end) with a room with 2 double beds and a partial ocean view. We didn't get a chance to look at other rooms, but those the 6th floor and above can have full ocean views (else face the Marina).
    • I didn't find the dehumidifier too annoying (except the one night when I had too many Mexican coffees and couldn't fall asleep). If you don't mind white noise, it shouldn't bother you. I would definitely leave it on because I could see the humidity cause mustiness if we turned it off. A couple of the pillows were musty, but since we had two beds, there were 8 pillow to choose from. The d©cor was also very pleasant. Bathrooms were nice (and clean). Maid service was very good, as well. We also enjoyed some cigars and Pacificos on our little patio which overlooked the pools.
    • Nikki Beach: We didn't go in the club, but it was playing "bumping" music throughout the day. I think the 20 to 30-somethings were all there during the day, lounging on the mattresses. It's open until at least 3am. Will have to inquire about the cover chargers, but it looked like it was about $20, with consumption tickets. Also, in the room is a Nikki Beach dance music CD that comes with a couple passess. (This is where we're planning to do "late night" for the party).
    • Notes: the party must end at midnight --- but note that Nikki Beach is open late
    • Happy Hour: At Las Cascadas, the lobby bar, happy hour is 4:30 to 5:30. Two for one for domestic drinks (Mexican beer, tequila, margaritas, etc.)
    • Pools: I found the pools to be really clean and pleasant. Swim up bars a must! Not sure when happy hour at the pool is, but I'm sure they have one. Wasn't too much trouble for the 2 of use to stake out seats, but sometimes the palm/coconut trees blocked the shade. Might be harder if a larger group was trying to save sevearl seats. One note is that the pool denizens tended to be much older or much younger. Like I said the 20-30-somethings were at Nikki Beach (or on the beach itself).
    • Timeshare attackers: We actually were not even approached once. I was concerned because of previous reviews I have read, but we didn't even see them. I did notice that there was an empty desk (near the stores) and finally on Sunday it was manned.
    • check-in/check-out was very pleasant. We were especially impressed when the bellhop remembered my FI's last name throughout our stay (which is a feat in itself because it is long and Italian.) Overall the staff was extrememly helpful and nice.
    • It's $7 for 24-hour access to the gym. My FI's complaint is that there are no free weights. Just "nautilus" type stuff, some exercise machines (elliptical, treadmill, stairmaster, bikes). There is a studio for classes (Pilates, Yoga, Spinning), but those are $14/class. Not sure if that is on top of the $7 for the access. Did not look at the Spa but will definitely be checking that out next time.


    As we think of more, I'll add to this list, but hopefully this review is helpful. Let me know if you have any questions. I'll review Vallarta restaurants next!
    -Adrienne

    #2 Jackie

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      Posted 05 February 2007 - 04:10 PM

      Very glad to hear you had a good time and great review very thorough!
      My Dreams Cabo Wedding Review
      http://bestdestinati...om/forum/t22576

      #3 LCBride2007

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        Posted 05 February 2007 - 05:55 PM

        I just ran across this review - thanks so much for sharing! Did you get out to any restaurants?

        #4 adeybaby

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          Posted 05 February 2007 - 07:20 PM

          Restaraunts, YES! Here's where we ate:
          • La Palapa: (Puerto Vallarta Fine Dining Restaurant - La Palapa, in the Zona Rom¡tica). This restaurant is right on the beach. You can either sit in the covered dining "room" or on the sand. Service was excellent food was TOO DIE FOR. We had the following dishes:
            • Ahi Yellowfin Tuna Tartar with wasabi soy served in a martini glass topped with huichol sauce foam, caviar and chives
            • La Palapa Tortilla Soup - the house favorite!
            • Chiliean Seabass
            • Rack of lamb (neither of entrees are on their website.
            • And, of course, Caf© Mexicano. This was fun and I would say you have them prepare it on the beach (instead of at the bar). It's really entertaining and they "pour" fire, etc.
            My gripes:
            • I e-mailed through their website beforehand to make a reservation and let them know that we would like to talk about our cena de ensayo. I never heard anything back from them.
            • When we arrived, let the host know that we would like to chat with someone about the RD. They said someone would come to the table. Well, they waited until the VERY end, as in after we paid the bill to finally come over. They said that they were extremely busy, but they could have at least stopped by to ask how the meal was going or say that they would be by later. And not that I was expecting some sort of perks (because a lot of people get married in PV), but some acknowledgment would have been nice!
            All in all, it was a bit on the expensive side (I think we ended up spending almost $200 between the two of us with tip), but well worth the trip. I would definitely check it out if you could. I heard from the Wedding Planner that El Dorado, which is next door, is also really good and more reasonably priced for a RD. We're probably going to have ours (around 50 people) at El Dorado.
          • Boca Bento (Welcome to Restaurant Bocabento in Puerto Vallarta, Zona Rom¡ntca): VERY tasty and nice setting. Asian influenced food, which actually works pretty well. Not hokey or too "asian-fusiony" (like PF Chang's or Ruby Foo's in the States can be at times). The food was delicious and again, service impeccable. (This is definitely a trend for restaurant in PV, in general). We had:
            • Pineapple Mahi-Mahi Ceviche / Pineapple in Citrus Juices/ Fresh Ginger / Tortilla Chips
            • Adobo Shrimp / Grilled Pineapple (YUM!) / Sticky Rice / Chimichurri Sauce
            • Chipotle-Honey Glazed Ribs / Peruvian Potato Salad
            • Pomegranate Martini (POTENT!)
            They were the only ones who responded to my online reservation making (the others were La Palapa and Caf© de Artistes). We didn't end up meeting with anyone because we decided at that point that we really liked the location of La Palapa. Boca Bento just sits in the middle of the street, although the restaurant itself (d©cor, etc.) is very nice. Prices were very reasonable, entrees between 13 and 20 bucks.
          • Pipi's: (PIPIS Restaurant Bar Puerto Vallarta, above the Malec³n in Centro) I know, I can't say it without giggling either. Very friendly service. Guacamole made at your table, "on the house" (on the entertaining side was the watching the people who awkwardly realized that they should tip the server a few pesos). REALLY good fajitas. We had:
            • Fish Fajitas (veggies included peppers, mushrooms and onions, rice and beans, guac/sour cream/salsa)
            • 2 Enchilada, 2 Tacos combo (Chicken enchiladas, crispy fish tacos, plus the fixings)
            • Aztec Soup (otherwise known as tortilla soup)
            • Flan, and just the way I like it. Nice and firm and extra-carmelized on the top.
            • One GIANT mango margarita for me (not easily finished when you've just eaten dinner...be prepared to spend more time here. I was trying to finish up quickly so we could walk around, but paid for it by feeling a bit bloated from the drink!)
            We went for lunch, and it was well priced, but we still ended up spending $60.
          • Barcelona Tapas: (Welcome to BarcelonaTapas.net, up on a hill in Centro). Beautiful view of downtown Vallarta and the Bay of Banderas. It's a mini-hike up the hill. We went up during the day to make reservations and they sent us off with a couple bottles of water. The must encounter winded toursits pretty often! The restaurant is the top two floors of an apartment building (kids were playing in the pool on the first floor!). The kitchen is on the top floor. Again, great and personable service. We had the following:
            • A free sliver of tortilla espa±ola (potato, onion omellete)
            • Gambas al ajillo: shrimp cooked in garlicky olive oil (a tapas MUST)
            • Patatas Bravas: Potatoes in garlicky, spicy sauce
            • Spinach: cooked with pine nuts, raisins and pears
            • Lamp Chop: this was the special and a "larger" tapa. Comes with more potatoes and grilled eggplant
            • Tuna carpaccio (SO GOOD)
            • Half a carafe of sangria (perfect for 2, not too much that you can't drive home!)
            • Flan (has an orangey-tang to it. We got it without the raspberry sauce)
            I loved every dish we tried, but I'm a tapa fanatic! This would be our 2nd choice for the RD for the view. Even though the food isn't "local," it is so good that it doesn't matter. Note, though, that they only take Amex or cash (or traveler's cheques). They have coupons on their website if you pay in cash. They also brought us a tequila and cream apertif at the end of the meal.

          Other places
          • No name place across from Andale's (Zona Rom¡tica): I don't know what it's called, but it's across the street and to the right as you exit Andale's. An American condo owner we met flying in suggested it. We got an order of nachos and flautas and two cokes for around $13. Definitely an anti-hangover place.
          • Didn't have any street food except for Elote: Corn with Cream, Chiles and Cheese. Yum! They sell them on the Malec³n for about 15 pesos).

          Other we wanted to try, but couldn't fit in anymore eating!:
          • Caf© de Artistes
          • Fajita Repulic
          • Vista Grille (though I heard this was waaay expensive)
          • Trio

          Best View: Barcelona Tapas
          Best food (starting at the best): La Palapa, Barcelona Tapas, Boca Bento, Pipi's, no-name place, hotel food
          Most to least expensive: La Palapa, hotel food, Barcelona Tapa, Boca Bento, Pipi's, no-name place
          First choice for RD: El Dorado, 2nd choice: Barcelona Tapas.

          I have pictures of the restaurants, too, so hold tight! (Copying this to my other restaurant review that I posted in a different thread.)
          -Adrienne

          #5 adeybaby

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            Posted 07 February 2007 - 03:26 PM

            Here is the link for our pictures. I couldn't find an elegant way to load them up on this site (too time consuming loading, one-by-one and I would have had to resize all of them): Picasa Web Albums - Adrienne - Scouting Trip...
            -Adrienne

            #6 TammyB

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              Posted 07 February 2007 - 03:35 PM

              Great review and love your pics,, Hmmm now I want a wedding there..

              #7 EDYTA

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                Posted 07 February 2007 - 03:35 PM

                Those are some great pics...I love the loungers on the beach and I love the reception setup by the fountain with the live band behind it...looks amazing, seems like there are a ton of great places to hold both the ceremony and reception

                #8 mexico15

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                  Posted 07 February 2007 - 03:35 PM

                  WoW...that place looks amazing! How beautiful! Thanks for sharing! Glad you loved the area...I am getting super excited!

                  #9 amyh

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                    Posted 07 February 2007 - 05:54 PM

                    Thank you soo much for the pics of the church!!! Do you happen to remember the name of the first one??

                    #10 Jessalyn

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                      Posted 07 February 2007 - 05:58 PM

                      Wow! Great review and great pictures! Thanks for sharing!

                      Tammy ~ You can't have your wedding there, because then I would be the only Sheraton Cabo bride!! .LOL ....I love the PV pics....so I can see what you mean.
                      My new man....Donovan

                      Wedding photos and avatar by Jonathan Thrasher Photography - www.jthrasherphoto.com
                      Our wedding slide show www.jthrasherphoto.com/slideshows/jessalynhttp://tickers.Ticke....k/27c1/age.png




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